Jun 18, 2022 - Politics & Policy

U.S. tax burden may lead some Americans abroad to give up citizenship

An American flag
The American flag on the roof of a U.S. embassy. Photo: Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images

About a quarter of Americans living abroad are “seriously considering” or “planning” to renounce their citizenship, a new survey found.

Driving the news: Burdensome tax laws for Americans living abroad is the most common reason expats are considering the step, according to the survey conducted by Greenback Expat Tax Services, which polled 3,200 Americans living in 121 countries.

State of play: Most of the world’s nations have a residence-based tax system.

  • However, U.S. citizens who reside in another country still owe income taxes to the IRS because of the U.S.' citizenship-based tax system. This can lead to costly tax preparation or, in some cases, owing taxes to both countries, CNBC reports.
  • Expats can face stiff penalties if they do not report foreign bank accounts or income.

Details: Among those weighing renouncement, 40% said filing taxes was too burdensome, the survey found.

  • That was more than the next three reasons combined: concern about the current political climate (15%); married a non-US citizen abroad (12%); and disappointment in the direction of the U.S. government (10%).
  • A majority want to see citizenship-based taxation repealed and one in five want to see the tax filing process simplified, the survey found.

In between the lines: An overwhelming majority of respondents — 86% — said they felt their concerns were less likely to be addressed by the government than citizens living in the continental U.S.

  • In addition to the quarter of people who said they are planning or seriously considering ditching their citizenship, two out of five people said they “wouldn’t rule it out.”
  • One in three said they would never consider it.

Yes, but: In 2020, roughly 9 million Americans were living abroad, the State Department estimates.

  • The number of people who formally renounced their citizenship declined from a record-breaking 6,705 that year to 2,426 in 2021, CNBC reports.
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